Preacher (Part 3)

From the day Preacher was born, the Jacobs children rarely missed their after-school stop at the Bontrager home. Along with Becca, they?d pester Sue Ann until she went along with them to see the colt. Preacher never knew any fear of these two-legged creatures, because they?d been a part of his world from the moment of his birth. Sure, he saw less of them than he did his dam, but they seemed to keep showing up. And so far, it had never been unpleasant to have them around.

?OK, little guy, let?s try this on for size,? Jonas crooned to Preacher one evening when he was several days old. An audience of five?Sue Ann and the Bontrager and Jacobs children?watched as Jonas deftly slipped a tiny blue halter over the colt?s nose and behind his ears. The colt shook his head, but before he could get rid of the strange thing on his face, Jonas had it buckled on his neck. ?Feels funny, huh?? Jonas scratched Preacher on the neck?that special place where it felt so good. The colt?s lips moved in pleasure, and Jonas caressed the soft whiskers under Preacher?s chin.

?Look, he?s got a little beard,? he chuckled. ?See??

The children stepped closer for a better look.

?That must be because he?s an Amish colt,? Marie remarked, and Jonas laughed out loud. The sudden outburst made the colt jump, which in turn scared little Lydianne. She retreated quickly to the safety of her mother?s skirts, but the other three children weren?t as easily discouraged.

?We want to play with him,? Ben said.

?We?ve been out here every day. He likes us,? Becca added.

?It?s good for him to be getting used to you,? Jonas agreed. ?But you have to be careful. You saw how he got scared when I laughed. Sometimes a colt will kick if he?s scared. You have to watch out for that.? Jonas had eased up to Preacher again, and this time was holding him lightly by the halter. As long as Jonas scratched and rubbed him, he didn?t seem to mind. Jonas unbuckled the halter and slipped it off again.

?We won?t scare him,? Marie promised. ?We?ll always be nice to him.?

?I know you will,? Jonas agreed. ?The other thing you need to know is that when a colt is playing, and having fun, he?ll sometimes kick up his heels. Just out of silliness, you know? But even if he?s having fun, if you?re in the way of his hooves, it could hurt you real bad.? Jonas picked up the colt?s legs, one by one. ?I?m doing this so he gets used to it, because when he gets older, he?ll need to have shoes put on him. But I don?t want any of you kids picking up his legs like this. Understand??

Jonas looked at each of the children, and they all nodded solemnly.

?Peecher,? Lydianne said, her courage back. ?Me touch.? She toddled from Sue Ann toward Jonas.

Kneeling on one knee, Jonas took his youngest daughter in one arm while he continued soothing the colt with the other. ?Here, you can pet him,? he said, and Lydianne?s bright blue eyes sparkled with delight as her little fingers stroked the shiny black coat. ?Pi-ty!? she said almost reverently. ?Pi-ty Peecher!?

Continued next week

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